bataan

Explore Bataan, Philippines, a top heritage and ecotourism destination. What are the best Bataan tourist spots and how do you get there? What cultural and historical destinations should you add to your itinerary? Here’s a list of awesome experiences, local eats, and go-to sites that you should take note when exploring Bataan.

The province of Bataan is considered the smallest province in Central Luzon, Philippines, with only 1,372.98 square kilometers of total land area. But don’t let that fool you, because it’s packed with exciting tourist spots and activities.

The Bataan map is rich in natural wonders such as stunning beaches, majestic mountains, and grandiose waterfalls. The local tourism and government offices’ effort to preserve the natural ecosystem of Bataan has made it into a rising eco-tourism destination. You can go on a hike, conquer bike trails, take on the longest zipline in Central Luzon, or swim at the many beach resorts in the province. Adventure seekers wouldn’t run out of things to do in Bataan!

The province of Bataan is also home to the country’s very first heritage resort where you can literally walk down memory lane and marvel at the beautifully restored houses and hotels of Old Manila. You can also catch a live kundiman (Filipina traditional love song) and folk dance performance while enjoying dinner under the stars.

Apart from its many natural and man-made wonders, Bataan’s history is what truly makes it a must-visit destination in Luzon. You will find several World War II shrines, monuments, and museums in Bataan that highlight the heroism and humanity’s triumph over war.

Truly, the province of Bataan has a lot of wonders waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway at Bataan beach resort or a longer vacation so you can better explore the province’s culture and history, this ultimate list of things to do can help you plan your itinerary better!



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Visit the Top World War II Sites on the Bataan Map

bataan mt samat

Because of its rich history and participation in the not-so-distant war, the Bataan map is filled with tourist spots that include World War II shrines, monuments, obelisks, and markers.

1. Pay Tribute to Filipino National Heroes at the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor

Located at the peak of Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan, the Shrine of Valor is probably the most important and recognizable World War II site in the Bataan map. Also called the Dambana ng Kagitingan, the Shrine of Valor is a memorial cross that pays tribute to the heroism of the Filipino and American troops when the Japanese army attacked the Philippines during the said war.

The memorial cross is 301-feet tall and features the bas reliefs of the country’s national heroes: Dr. Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Antonio Luna, Lapu Lapu, and Gabriela Silang to name a few.

The stunning sculptures also include key historical events of the Philippines, including the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal and the Battle of Bataan. Collectively, the sculptures are called Nabiag Nga Bato, which means “living stone” in the local dialect of Ilocano.

Visitors can enjoy the majestic views of the Manila Bay and the Bataan Peninsula at memorial cross’ viewing deck. Entrance fee is PHP 20.00.

2. Check out the Bataan World War II Museum and the Surrender Site Marker

Strategically located at the back of the Balanga Elementary School, the Bataan World War II Museum is the go-to place to learn about the province’s participation in the world event.

The museum houses war memorabilia and dioramas, particularly those from the infamous Bataan Death March in 1942 wherein thousands of Filipino and American soldiers marched nearly 69.6 miles from Bataan to Tarlac as war prisoners of the Japanese army. As the name suggests, thousands died during this horrible event. Entrance to the museum is PHP 50.000.

Take a short walk inside the Balanga Elementary School grounds and you’ll find the Surrender Site Marker. It features a life-size statue of Major General Edward P. King Jr. and his party as they make a painful decision. The document of surrender was signed on April 9, 1942, in an effort to prevent further bloodshed of the Filipino and American soldiers by the Japanese imperial army. Today, the marker is a painful reminder of what transpired in the province during the not-so-distant war.

3. Visit the Zero Kilometer Markers

A zero kilometer (km) or mile marker is used as control points to measure distances. Bataan has two Zero KM Markers because the bloody Bataan Death March in 1942 kicked off from two points in the province: from Mariveles on April 10 and from Bagac in April.

During the Bataan Death March, the troops marched from Bataan all the way to Capas, Tarlac. Today, these Zero KM Markers are marked with an obelisk as well as a bayonet with a soldier’s helmet thrust into the ground.

4. Visit the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower

Also known as the Japan-Philippines Friendship Tower, this towering symbol of reconciliation and peace is strategically located 10 minutes away from the Zero KM Marker in Bagac, Bataan.

It was built in 1975 by a Japanese Buddhist organization, Kosei Kai Group. The white structure stands 27-meter tall and features a Buddhist bell and three pillars that are connected by multi-layer rings. Sometimes called the Bagac Friendship Bell, the structure is a fitting reminder of the renewed friendship between the Philippines and Japan.

5. See the Flaming Sword in Pilar, Bataan

This historical landmark in Pilar, Bataan is called as such because it symbolizes the bravery of the Filipino people during the time when peace and democracy were threatened by external forces.

The landmark is actually a giant hand holding a 30-foot long sword. Made of concrete and steel, the Flaming Sword stands proudly in front of the Municipal Hall of Pilar.

6. Find the Fall of Bataan Marker

The province of Bataan will never forget the date of April 9, 1942 for two reasons. First, it was the tragic day that Bataan officially fell into the hands of the Japanese forces when Major General Edward P. King Jr. signed the surrender document. Second, it was the day when the ties between the Filipinos and American forces, and the two countries for that matter, was sealed in blood.

Found in the capital city of Balanga, the Fall of Bataan Marker is a reminder of that tragic time in history and the friendship between the US and the Philippines.

7. See the ruins at Corregidor Island

Even if Corregidor Island is located in Cavite, people associate it more with Bataan because it’s just a short distance away. You can walk among the ruins, check out the tunnels and cannons, and even go ghost-hunting if you’re brave enough. The historic island is included in many Bataan tours.

Explore the Ecotourism Destinations in Bataan

bataan pawikan

The people of Bataan’s love for history and preserving it for future generations is also evident in how they conserve its natural beauty. In recent years, a new industry has woken up some of the sleepy parts of Bataan: ecotourism.  Here are some of the eco-tourism destinations that you can add to your Bataan tour itinerary.

1. Go Birdwatching at the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

International bird watchers, tourists, and locals are flocking to the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park to see migratory birds in their natural habitat. The park has recorded about 35 species and 15 bird families, thanks to the city’s wetlands, mudflats, and mangrove forests. Entrance fee to the nature park is PHP 20.00 per person. The best time to catch these birds in action is early in the morning.

2. Connect with Nature at the Bataan National Park

Located in Orani, about 40 minutes from the Bataan Highway, the Bataan National Park is the last remaining closed-canopy dipterocarp forest in the whole Central Luzon. It’s the home of several wildlife species including giant fruit bats, wild monkeys, wild boars, civet cats, eagles, and pygmy woodpeckers. Thousands of fruit-bearing trees, including coffee, jackfruit, guyabano, and lanzones.

Covering about 23,688 hectares, the Bataan National Park is also the home of two majestic falls, the Pasukulan, and the Dunsulan Falls. If you want to spend time with nature, this is the place to be, particularly during sunset.

3. Visit the Turtles at the Pawikan Conservation Center

The Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan is a safe haven for Philippine pawikan (sea turtle). The species face several threats yearly, including egg gathering, poaching, illegal fishing, and slaughter. The conservation center provides protection as well as facilities for hatching and healing.

Entrance fee to the Pawikan Conservation is PHP 30.00 per person. It’s best to visit during the months of August until February when the female turtles make their way to the shore to lay eggs. During this peak season, locals and tourists would take turns patrolling the shores to protect the eggs and even watch them hatch.

In November, during the week-long Pawikan Festival, you can witness a ritual wherein they release the turtle hatchlings back into the sea. It’s a unique experience that you can experience during a Bataan tour.

4. Visit the Bataan Technology Park

The park used to be the home of the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC). The center was a training and transition center for Indochinese refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam who fled to the Philippines in the 1970s.

The former training center is now a techno-economic zone that provides business and employment opportunities for the people of Bataan. There’s a museum where you can see evidence of the camaraderie between the Indochinese refugees and Filipinos.

Walk Down Memory Lane at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar 

bataan las casas

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is the Philippines’ first-ever heritage resort located in Bagac, Bataan. This 400-hectare picturesque resort showcases over 30 heritage homes from different parts of the Philippines fully-restored brick-by-brick to their glory days.

This living museum actually started with just one restored casa (house), the Casa Cagayan. This traditional Filipino home dates back to the early 1900s and served as the family vacation home of Jose Acuzar, the resort’s owner.

Since then, Acuzar started buying and even salvaging fragments of old, abandoned houses all over the country. He transported them to his riverfront property in Bataan and started renovating them.

Here are some of the top things to do in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar that you should add to your Bataan tour.

1. Join a Walking Tour and Travel Back in Time to Old Manila

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar has three types of walking tours: Weekday Walking Tour, Weekday Premiere Heritage Tour, and the Weekend Walking Heritage Tour starting at PHP 1500.00 per person.

The tour guides, who are wearing traditional Filipino clothing, will walk you through the entire property and tell you the unique stories and history of each casa. Discover the hidden hallways and secret sliding doors in old Ilocano homes. Feel the cool but rough exteriors of Casa Vyzantina, a traditional Bahay na Bato (house made of stone). Step into the replica of the opulent Hotel De Oriente, the Philippines’ first luxury hotel in Binondo. You can also take a panoramic shot of the stunning Paseo Escolta, which pays tribute to the one buzzing business center of Escolta in Manila.

2. Witness a Live Kundiman and Folk Dance Performance

A kundiman is a genre of traditional love songs in the Philippines. You can enjoy a lavish dinner under the stars while a live kundiman band serenades you with age-old Filipino songs like Paruparong Bukid and Leron, Leron Sinta.

Resort employees and groups of local students perform Filipino folk dances such as singkil and tinikling. It’s an amazing cultural and dining experience that you should include in your itinerary.

3. Take a Dip in a Batis-Inspired Swimming Pool

Oddly-shaped and with big, smooth rocks adorning one of the pool’s edges, this pool takes inspiration from a typical batis (creek, or small pond) that you can find in the province. Unlike typical pools that have intricate or simple tile designs at the bottom, the batis-inspired swimming pool has an uneven, slightly rough floor that adds to its rustic feel.

Take a Dip in Some of the Best Bataan Beach Resorts

bataan resorts

Since the province of Bataan is only 2.5 hours away from Metro Manila, it has become an ultimate destination for vacationing families, friends, and even companies for team building. With a long list of beach resort options to choose from and leisurely water activities to try, your itinerary will surely be filled.

If you want to take a break from all the historical and educational tours and explorations, here are some of the best Bataan beach resorts with leisurely activities that the whole family will enjoy!

1. Check out the Lagoon Pool at Sinagtala Resort

If you’re traveling with family or a big group and you’re looking for fun activities you can do without leaving your beach resort, head to Sinagtala Resort in Orani, Bataan.

Apart from the two infinity pools, this Bataan beach resort also has a lagoon pool, ziplines, air bridges, giant swings, and hiking trails all located within the property. Its location within the Bataan National Park gives guest stunning views of grandiose mountains and age-old rainforests. It's a famous venue for destination weddings, corporate events like team building, and quiet retreats.

2. Experience a Luxe Stay at Anvaya Cove

In the ancient Sanskrit language, the word “anvaya” means family. And the amenities of this exclusive and high-end 470-hectare Bataan beach resort are perfect for family gatherings.

With luxurious rooms and suites, water parks and swimming pools, an exclusive spa, an 18-hole golf course, and on-site restaurants, café, and bars, families will surely enjoy a lavish stay at this beachfront resort.

Apart from your usual beachfront swimming, Anvaya Cove also has water sport activities such as kayaking, paddleboard, banana boat, as well as sand castle-making and beach volleyball.

3. Go Kayaking at Brisa Marina Beach Resort

Modern and chic, the Brisa Marina Beach Resort in Morong, Bataan is known for its beach-facing infinity pool and elegant rooms with ocean views. Like in Anvaya Cove, you can also enjoy water activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and banana boat rides. The resort has a long, wide beach with an amazing sunset view. Its beachfront snack bar serves cocktails and bar bites perfect for a relaxing weekend.

4. Enjoy a Bali Experience at Pamarta Bali Beach Resort

The nearly 5,000-sqm Balinese-inspired beach resort is found in Morong, Bataan. It's not as popular as the other Bataan beach resorts found on this list, but its simplicity and tranquility provide guests with the perfect venue for a beach escape.

Pamarta Bali Beach Resort has 12 villas as well as well-equipped nipa huts for that authentic Bali experience in the Philippines without the need to hop on a plane. Apart from the beautiful stretch of beach, the resort also has a jacuzzi, an infinity pool, and a children’s pool.

5. Take a Dip in a Salt Water Pool at Bataan White Corals Beach Resort

This family-friendly Morong, Bataan beach resort is perfect for big groups. The simply decorated but spacious rooms and suites are the right sizes for vacationing families who want to enjoy swimming and quiet time.

Bataan White Corals Beach Resort also has two pools: a saltwater pool and a freshwater pool. When you're tired of splashing in the waters, you can hop on a jet ski or a kayak.

Explore the Hidden Coves at Five Fingers in Mariveles, Bataan

mariveles bataan

Mariveles, Bataan is getting a lot of social media attention thanks to its cove-to-cove hopping. Aptly named Five Fingers, these hidden coves and points look like five fingers on the Bataan map.

The one-day tours allow you to explore the hidden wonders of Five Fingers in Mariveles, Bataan, as well as neighboring sites like the Sisiman Lighthouse, the Sisiman grotto, and the Laki Beach. Here are the points you should visit during your cove-to-cove hopping.

1. Go Trekking at Cochino’s Point

The word “cochino” means pig in Spanish. Cochino’s Point is the first stop where a short but challenging 20-minute trek will give you beautiful views of the cliffs, sea, hills, and the majestic Mt. Mariveles. Cochino’s Point has a secret cave that’s ideal for cooling off after that challenging trek.

2. See the Natsu Lagoon at Talaga Point

If you’ve always wanted to try cliff jumping, you’ll love the second stop of the Five Fingers cove-to-cove hopping. Talaga Point’s 20-foot cliff is ideal for an adrenaline-pumping cliff jump that will lead you to the Natsu Lagoon. The world natsu means summer in Japanese.

Talaga’s Point is also home to the Apatot Cove’s beach, aptly named because of the abundance of apatot trees in the area. It’s a perfect spot for beach swimming.

3. See the Nagmandala Rock at Hornos Point

Also called Puntang Mahaba, Hornos Point is the longest of the five “fingers” where you can find the Pebble Cave, a famous spot for prenuptial photos. Hornos Point is where you’ll find the stairway-like formations of the Nagmandala Rock with clear and inviting surrounding waters.

4. Have a Snack at Naiklec Point

The “ring finger” (fourth finger) is called Naiklec Point, which is the home of the Mawakis Cove. Majority of the Five Fingers cove-to-cove tours stop here for a late lunch or snack.

5. Jump Off the 40-ft Cliff at Longos Kawayan Point

This last stop is famous for its 40-ft cliff jump found at the Tinanlakan Lagoon. The Longos Kawayan Point has a lunch area for tour participants as well as a beach camping site at the Aglaloma Beach. The fifth finger is also the home of the Nagbintana Arch rock formation and the Latain Point, an ophiolite rock formation.

Feast at These Bataan Restaurants Serving Local and International Cuisine

bataan where to eat

Bataan is just a short distance to the country's culinary capital, the province of Pampanga. And because of this, you'll find that the majority of the local dishes in Bataan are inspired by the Kapampangan cuisine of Pampanga. You will also find other international cuisines in Bataan, including Italian, Japanese, and Vietnamese. If you're looking for cool places to satisfy your appetite, here's a short but sweet list of restaurants to visit.

1. Enjoy the Laidback Feel Vibe at The Food Project

You can get steaks, ribs, and pasta dishes at The Food Project for under PHP 100.00 each. Comforting and easy on the budget, the food at The Food Project in Orion, Bataan, is a delicious fusion of international dishes plus local tastes. The atmosphere is also very laidback and hip. The wooden tables provide the perfect background for all those food flat lays for social media posts.

2. Savor Local Dishes at Ima’s Pamangan

If you’re craving for homemade Kapampangan dishes, you can have you fill at Ima’s Pamangan in Pilar, Bataan. For only PHP 200.00 per person, you can feast on the buffet of local dishes such as bulalo (beef marrow stew) and bangus with salted egg (fried milkfish with salted egg).

3. Taste an Authentic Hot Chocolate Drink at Choco-late de Batirol

After spending most of the day checking out the historical markers on the Bataan map, head to Choco-late de Batirol in Pilar and order their specialty hot chocolate drink for PHP 80.00. They prepare it using a traditional batirol, a wood whisk.

It’s a popular merienda spot where you can get Filipino traditional afternoon treats like suman sa lihia and bibingka. They also have rice meals and breakfast meals that you can get for less than PHP 200.00 each.

4. Order Pizza at Angelitos

This family-owned restaurant got its name from the family’s three youngest boys who are all named after archangels. Its coziness and family-style, home-cooked food make it a perfect lunch stop for most tours in Orani, Bataan.

They serve local family favorites like chopsuey (mixed vegetables), pancit habhab, salads, and pork binagoongan (pork with shrimp paste). Interestingly, they also serve a wide assortment of pizza selections and nachos. The best part? The selections are very affordable. One order of nachos is only PHP 85.00.

5. Try the Omurice-Inspired Tapa Dish Saverde

Located in Abucay, Bataan, Saverde Coffee Shop serves up local favorites with a Japanese twist. For example, their beef tapa dish (PHP 75.00) is served like the omurice in Japan. Instead of the usual plating, the rice is wrapped inside a thin layer of egg and beef tapa bits with fried garlic are served as toppings.

For snacks, you can enjoy the rich buttermilk toast for only PHP 20.00! If you’re dining with friends, go ahead and order the Chicken in a Basket. The café’s selection of iced coffee and fruit shakes are welcome treats, especially during the summer season.



Plan Your Ultimate Bataan Tour This Year!

The province’s rich history has provided the Bataan map with a long list of must-visit World War II sites. Bataan’s penchant for preserving the past and its natural beauty give people more reason to visit the province for a week-long adventure.

Use this guide to plan your ultimate Bataan trip. The activities we mentioned here not only give you an overview of what to expect during your tours but also information about Bataan’s secret coves and lagoons.

Are you planning to visit Bataan, Philippines this year? Check out Bataan tours and activities to help maximize your weekend or week-long trips!